Posts Tagged ‘titius’

Almost Perfect: The Titius-Bode Law

April 28, 2008

It’s not perfect, and it only works for 7 of the 8 planets, but it’s still great for getting an approximation for how far apart to hang the glow-in-the-dark planets from your ceiling.

The distance from the Sun to Mercury is approximately 4 tenths of an AU (Astronomical Unit — the average distance from the Sun to the Earth), and the average distance from the Sun to Venus, Earth, Mars, the asteroid belt, Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus is approximately [4+(3·2N)] tenths of an AU, where N=0,1,2,3,4,5, and 6 respectively. Isn’t that a neat equation? It was first observed by David Gregory in 1702 (in Latin; 1715 in English) in his book The Elements of Astronomy and is therefore named after Johann Titius (who published a German translation of a 1724 book by Christian Wolff that contained the same description) and Johann Bode (who read Titius’s translation and put it as a footnote in his own textbook). And here’s where I’m wondering if I can get my name added to the Law by virtue of just mentioning it here. Click here for a chart of how accurate it is, and also some history including a search for the missing planet between Mars and Jupiter!